Creating a vision for your ideal artistic lifestyle: Taking notes from Malte Laurids Brigge

Creating a vision for your ideal artistic lifestyle: Taking notes from Malte Laurids Brigge

Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” isn’t merely a novel; it’s a treasure trove of profound reflections on life and art. Let’s explore its depths and see how it can inspire and shape our artistic journey.

1. Embracing Solitude

“There is no place that does not see you. You must change your life.”
In the dense urban sprawl of Paris, Brigge seeks solitude. This line captures the essence of confronting oneself, highlighting the need to retreat and find spaces for introspection. Sometimes, our most profound revelations come in moments of silence.

2. Confronting Reality

“Death is the side of life which is turned away from us… One of the main reasons why the realization of death is kept from us is that life’s side is all we can see.”
Brigge’s commentary on the inescapability of death urges artists to embrace and confront life’s harsh truths. By facing reality, we enrich our artistic creations with authenticity.

3. Valuing Experiences over Materialism

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
While in materialistically driven Paris, Brigge values the simple joys, like the company of readers. It’s a subtle nudge for artists to treasure experiences and the intangibles over possessions.

4. Constantly Observing

“Every face, every shop, bedroom window, public-house, and dark square is a picture feverishly turned…”
This vivid description exemplifies Brigge’s observational prowess. For an artist, the world is a canvas, and every detail is a potential stroke of genius.

5. Embracing Past and Memories

“Memory… is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theater. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.”
Our past, as Brigge eloquently illustrates, isn’t just a recollection but a stage where our memories come alive. Artists must delve into these memories to breathe life into their creations.

6. Cultivating Depth over Surface

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions… they are experiences.”
In an age of fleeting trends, Brigge’s distinction between emotions and experiences is a stark reminder of the depth art should strive for. It’s not about the immediate emotion, but the lingering experience.

7. Understanding the Interconnectedness of Art Forms

“This was the feeling that everything was connected by invisible threads…”
Brigge perceives an underlying connection in everything, a sentiment that resonates with artists. Drawing inspiration from diverse art forms can weave a richer tapestry of creativity.


Rilke’s “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” is a profound reflection on life and artistry. Through Brigge’s experiences and insights, artists can find a guiding light on their journey, emphasizing the balance of introspection with worldly observation. The quest for deeper meaning and authentic expression remains eternal.

10 greatest passages

“The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” by Rainer Maria Rilke is a poetic, existential work of modernist literature, replete with profound passages. Given the depth and nuance of the text, it’s challenging to distill it down to just ten passages. However, I can certainly share some notable passages from the book, though their appreciation can be subjective. Keep in mind that translations can differ, so the exact wording might vary depending on the translator. Here are some remarkable excerpts:

  1. “Ah, poems amount to so little when you write them too early in your life. You ought to wait and gather sense and sweetness for a whole lifetime, and a long one if possible, and then, at the very end, you might perhaps be able to write ten good lines.”
  2. “For the sake of a few lines one must see many cities, men and things. One must know the animals, one must feel how the birds fly and know the gesture with which the little flowers open in the morning.”
  3. “People have their childhoods behind them, like forgotten moated castles. There they are, even now, clear, to the very last stone; not to be gotten at, and so not to be demolished; how often they stand round about one in dreams! And everything is as big as it was then, and inside of it one is as big as one was then, and only the things one has learned later have got smaller inside it and go by and can’t hold their own and can’t even be seen any more.”
  4. “This is what young people are. And always remain. If they didn’t always remain young, the grown-ups would cheerfully kill them off.”
  5. “Nowadays one lives with the world, not in it.”
  6. “Memory is not an instrument for surveying the past but its theater. It is the medium of past experience, just as the earth is the medium in which dead cities lie buried. He who seeks to approach his own buried past must conduct himself like a man digging.”
  7. “I am learning to see. I don’t know why it is, but everything enters me more deeply and doesn’t stop where it once used to.”
  8. “I have made so many mistakes; and thus converted so much future into past.”
  9. “One can never be alone enough to write; to see better one would have to be dead, as I always say.”
  10. “I am not one of those who neglect the body in order to make of it a sacrificial offering for the soul, since my soul loves the body and would not be without it.”

These passages reveal Rilke’s reflections on life, memory, art, youth, and the relationship between the body and the soul. The beauty of “The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge” lies in its introspective depth and poetic resonance, making it a treasure trove for readers and artists alike.